Thursday, May 24, 2012

Exergy Tour: Armstrong Out, Canadians Win Big

Posted By and on Thu, May 24, 2012 at 9:42 PM

(Left to right) Gillian Carleton of the Canadian National Team, Tara Whitten of Team TIBCO and Clara Hughes of Team Lululemon
  • Deanna Darr
  • (Left to right) Gillian Carleton of the Canadian National Team, Tara Whitten of Team TIBCO and Clara Hughes of Team Lululemon
While the Prologue stage of the Exergy Tour turned into a very big day for Canadian riders on May 24, it was a heartbreaking end for Boise Olympic hero Kristen Armstrong, who appeared to be out of the race after a bad fall at the halfway point.

The defending Olympic Time Trial gold medalist was the last to start of the night, and while she set a blistering pace, Armstrong lost control of her bike on a tight corner at the turnaround point and took a hard fall on her left side.

At a press conference following the race, officials announced that Armstrong was being taken for X-rays, but declined to release her condition, but later her husband told the Idaho Statesman that Armstrong would be out of the rest of the Exergy Tour and was expected to undergo surgery. The Associated Press later reported that Armstrong broke her collar bone in the fall.

While she jumped back up on her bike after the fall, delivering a still very-respectable time of 4:17, Armstrong was visibly shaken and in pain as she dismounted, clutching her shoulder and limping.

Kristin Armstrong winces in pain after finishing the Prologue Stage of Exergy Tour.
  • Andrew Crisp
  • Kristin Armstrong winces in pain after finishing the Prologue Stage of Exergy Tour.

As Armstrong was being taken for treatment, other racers were being honored for their achievements.

Tara Whitten of Team TIBCO finished in first place with a time of 4:09, taking the first-ever leader's jersey. The victory was especially sweet for the team, whose bikes and equipment were stolen from a trailer only one day earlier, only to be recovered by the Boise Police Department later that day.

As Boise Mayor Dave Bieter awarded Whitten her medal, he smiled and added, "I'm so glad you got your bike back."

Gillian Carleton of the Canadian National Team finished second, followed by fellow Canadian Clara Hughes of Team Lululemon in third, both just fractions of a second behind Whittman. Official results were still pending as of Thursday night.

Armstrong's fall was a primary topic for the hometown crowd as well as other racers. After her win, Whitten commented that while the victory is a huge honor, she was sorry to hear about Armstrong's fall.

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Crowds who turned out for the event seemed energized and ready to celebrate the return of professional women's cycling to Idaho. Fans lined not only the start and finish point in Julia Davis Park, but the route along Capitol Boulevard to the Boise Train Depot.

Whitten commented on how thrilled the riders were to receive such a welcome and support, yet after Armstrong's fall, the atmosphere among the crowd was visibly deflated.

The tour continues on Friday with Stage One beginning in downtown Nampa at 11 a.m.

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